Sports Direct underlying pre-tax profit jumped 16.9% to £146.2m in its half to October 27 as finance director Bob Mellor reveals he is to retire.
Profits and sales soared at the sportswear retailer despite tough comparison as the London Olympics and UEFA European Championship fell into the same period last year.
Group revenue rose 23.5% to £1.35bn with UK sports retail sales up 13.4% to £903.3m as the retailer said it had performed “ahead of management’s expectations”. Group gross margin increased 190 basis points to 43.1% while UK sports retail margin rose 150 basis points to 43.8%.
Its international sports store sales surged 30.8% to £118.5m while new acquisitions overseas contributed £87.7m. The retailer now trades in 19 European countries.
Sales at Sports Direct’s premium lifestyle division, which includes Republic and USC, rocketed 83.2% to £102.8m. The shop front of 43 former Republic stores were converted to USC during the half as Sports Direct moves to phase out the fascia.
Underlying EBITDA, pre share scheme costs, rose 12.3% to £183.3m.
Online sales rose 43% over the period and now contributes 15.5% of its total sports retail sales.
Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said: “We have delivered another strong performance reflecting our continued focus on providing customers with exceptional quality and unbeatable value – reinforcing our position as the consumer champion.
“The growth in group revenues and EBITDA has been ahead of expectations and achieved against a tough comparative that included the UEFA European Championships and the London 2012 Olympics.
“The performance of sports retail is particularly pleasing with significant growth in the UK, Europe and online. The group’s expansion in Europe has also continued with acquisitions in Austria and the Baltic states. The integration of these acquisitions is progressing and we continue to look for further opportunities across Europe.”
Forsey said that the board is confident of achieving its full year internal EBITDA target of £310m before the costs of its employee bonus share scheme.
Bob Mellors, who has been group finance director at Sports Direct since 2004, has told the board he plans to retire at the end of December on health grounds.